Citizen are midway through their debut UK and European tour with Topshelf Records’ The Diamond Youth and Manchester’s Headroom, with this night seeing them perform at Derby’s Victoria Inn. Although the show was kicked off by Derby’s own Garden State, a train-related mishap prevented us from catching them and Headroom were just taking to the stage as we arrived.
Riding on the recent revival wave of the 90s emo scene, Headroom played a set comprising of their most recent EP Headroom, along with a selection of tracks from their albeit small catalogue. Sounding like a combination of scene leaders Nai Harvest and cult heroes Mineral, tracks including ‘Slung’ and ‘Outside’ sounded huge in the confines of The Vic’s tiny room, and suggested that Headroom may well be appearing a few more times than tonight’s debut Derby performance.
In Contrast to Headroom’s 90s tinged emo and Citizen’s grungy hardcore sound, The Diamond Youth were very much the odd fit of the bill, with their Jimmy Eat World meets Weezer pop-rock. While tracks including ‘Can’t Shake The Feeling’ and ‘Cannonball’ were enjoyable, technical problems and the mismatch of sounds meant that The Diamond Youth just did not excite the crowd as much as they deserved, thus resulting in an atmospheric dip.
As one of the leading crossover acts in the reignited emo scene, this tour has been a huge step both for the Citizen and for the genre. Opening with ‘Roam The Room’ from their debut self-titled album, it was immediately clear that both band and crowd were more than up for the show, pushing the tiny confines of The Vic to their very limit.
Two songs in and even guitarist Nick Hamm’s broken string, prompting a spur of the moment cover of Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead’, wasn’t enough to dampen the room’s spirits. With a set comprising of 2012’s Youth, 2011’s Young States, and the band’s 2012 split EP with Turnover, there was more than enough for the most seasoned listener or the casual fan.
A truly epic ‘The Night I Drove Alone’ stood out as the highlight of the night, hearing a room of people all screaming ‘I SHOULD HAVE CRASHED THE CAR’ proved to be quite a spectacle, a closing one-two of ‘Speaking With a Ghost’ and breakthrough single ‘The Summer’ saw the crowd turn into a full-on hardcore show, invading the stage and crowd surfing from the odd little wall that stands at the front of The Vic’s stage.
For their first ever UK tour, Citizen have pulled off a huge feat doing a run of this size, and given the response, future dates in larger venues may not be that far away. Despite technical difficulties throughout the set that had already plagued the support bands, Citizen performed admirably, not letting anything hold them back. If they can continue to get the support they deserve then this will hopefully the first of many occasions we catch the band on these shores.